Have you ever noticed that the smallest things can trigger memories to come flooding into your mind, whether or not you’d like to remember them? Smells, sights, sounds…..
Have you ever noticed how far sounds carry on a cool, crisp, still morning?
That is the one thing I poignantly remember about that day. The sirens, wailing through the clear morning air. A welcome sound as they were coming, and one that sounded like a death knell as they pulled out of our driveway.
To this day, the sound of a siren’s wailing makes me involuntarily shudder.
In some ways, I hope I will grow out of it eventually — after all, it’s been five years. In another way, I don’t ever want to grow out of it. It helps me remember how good and faithful our sovereign God is.
Five years ago, it was a beautiful autumn day. A Tuesday. October 25. The leaves had turned colors early, and I had been outside early to take pictures with the pretty lighting. The fog. Mom was hanging clothes out to dry on our line. It was a normal, everyday-kinda-day.
Until Mom was stumbling into her room. Asking for help we couldn’t give. Moaning from the pain. Curled up in a ball on the bed. But all of that was better than the mother who became unconscious. Who couldn’t answer us. Who every few minutes stopped breathing and lay perfectly, totally still.
Things are a blur from there. I remember the emails to my father, who had gotten up early and was in Mississippi, working. I remember my grandparents coming down, calling for help — because we didn’t have a phone at the time. I remember praying with my sister as we waited. I remember the volunteer EMT’s — our next door neighbors — running over. I remember them asking me to leave the room.
I remember the questions. No, this is not her first pregnancy. (Did you see all the children you passed on the way in here?!?) Yes, this is her ninth. No, she hasn’t been drinking. No, she doesn’t do drugs. (Again, did you see all the little ones?!?)
I remember hearing the ambulance. You could hear it from miles down the road. Waiting on it to stop.
And I remember seeing them putting her on the stretcher, wheeling her out the door, and loading her into the back of the ambulance.
I remember seeing it leave. Sirens going, gaining speed, lights flashing. And the emptiness. Wondering if I would ever see my mother on this earth again.
I remember seeing all the cars in the ditch in front of our home. In our yard. Vehicles of people I didn’t know. Strangers. Asking questions. Wondering what had happened. Telling me they had watched us as they went to and from work each day. Wondering how they could help.
I remember turning back into the house, to meet seven siblings, under the age of thirteen. All crying, all needing comfort. And I remember not knowing what to say. I couldn’t tell them what I so earnestly wanted to, reassuring them it would all be okay. Because it wasn’t. It wouldn’t. All I could do — the best thing I could do — was pray with them.
I remember friends coming to help. Hugs given. A mother of eight showing up at the door, telling us to pack bags, and piling us all into their van. Taking us away from the hurt, the pain, the confusion. Giving the little ones something else to think about. .
I remember the phone call — the prayers prayed as the doctors decided to do brain surgery. As the doctors began loosing the baby and my mother. As the decision was made to take the 24 week baby via c-section, to give both a better chance to live. I recall praying through the operation, and the relief that came when the phone rang and we heard that everything was okay, the baby had survived.
The hours long surgery. The waiting. The doctors telling my father that if my mother survived, she would never be able to walk. Talk. Care for herself. See. The baby could end up blind, deaf, mentally incompetent.
I remember the first time seeing my sister. So tiny, so very vulnerable. Laying there, so very helpless. I remember the wonder at the creation of God. I remember thinking how crazy this world was. If this tiny little human being was in the womb, and it had been discovered she had a “defect”, the doctors that were trying so hard to preserve her life would have offered to kill her. To murder her, in cold blood. She who had been created in the image of God. it was at that point that I realized what an evil abortion was. I *knew* it before, but it came home to me, a living, breathing truth that I was forced to face.
I remember the lessons we learned during the long recovery period of my mother. I remember the emotions, the second time my mother was hospitalized a week after she returned home, and the second brain surgery. I remember the long 90 days that stretched out until we were able to bring my sister home.
I remember the lessons God taught us. How our lives truly are but a vapor, here today, and gone tomorrow. How it is only if God wills, we should do this or that. How He only gives us the strength we need for the moment…for the day…how each new morning His grace is sufficient.
That time was a blessed experience. I learned that when you come to the end of yourself, when you think you have it all under control, everything around you flies to pieces. Dreams shatter, plans are broken, and life slips away. And you are forced to lean — to fall — into the arms of our Saviour, who will never leave us nor forsake us. To depend on Him. You learn that He reveals His plan little by little, over the course of days and months and years, because if you knew everything at once, you would be utterly crushed with despair and hopelessness and fear. You learn to appreciate each new day as it comes. To welcome it, live each moment fully, and cry tears to relieve your soul.
I remember when Mom was up and walking, talking, seeing, breathing. I knew God was a God of grace and mercy and He was able.
When we brought the little one home I knew God was the great I AM.
And now, five years later, I think about what I have learned this year. About the blessings God has given me. About the times He has brought me through this year. And I am grateful.
I never would have chosen to see my grandfather so sick. But my family and I were able to strengthen our relationships with both our grandparents. They have started coming to our church on Sundays, and we have enjoyed visiting with them many times through out the week.
I never would have chosen to have termites eating our home, to have all the floors ripped out, new ones in place, and live with no kitchen for so many months. But I know that it helped develop character, helped to shape the woman I hope to become. It gave the boys a wonderful opportunity to learn so much about repairing and fixing things, and they will be able to do it in their own home one day.
I never would have dreamed that our “big, yellow bus” would have broken down in Kentucky while trying to make it home. That we would be stuck for 10+ hours in an….ahem….less desirable part of town. I never would have imagined the joy the little ones had playing frisbee in the parking lot. I never would have known what sweet friends we have — the kind of friends who turn around and drive three hours to come help, when they could have made it home and had a good night’s sleep. I never would have imagined the adventure it is to drive 8 hours home overnight, arriving back at our home about 7ish in the morning. I never would have imagined the unavailability of finding the right alternator and all the parts for the bus. And I never would have imagined how much the boys learned about fixing and repairing vehicles. They can now do some of the basic repairs with only a little guidance from Dad — a skill that will bless their wives one day, Lord willing.
I never would have imagined my baby brother going to NICU when he was born. I never thought I would have the same old feeling of my chest tightening and my throat constricting as I try my hardest not to cry at what should be a joyful event.
This year has been full of many things. Troubles? Yes. But also laughter. For everything that we knew had to be repaired in the house, Dad would discover one or two more things that had to be fixed before he could move on. Yes, we can laugh about it now. Smile at the fact that he and sweet friends from our church rebuilt the foundation under our house in only four short months while our house was standing — and successfully did it =) Yes, we had our share of sickness. Of disease, of near deaths. But we have hugged more because of it. Grown closer. My baby brother may have had a rough start learning to breath, but he now makes all of us catch our breath to hear his sweet little chuckles, to squish him close to us, to kiss his cheeks, to see his smiles.
I discovered just how blessed I am to have five brothers running around our home. Five brothers in various stages of growth, learning to be little men.
I am looking forward to our FallFellowship this year, our annual Ebenezer get-together. There is so much the Lord has done in so many families. Losses and births. Struggles and triumphs. Maybe this year I will post a few pictures so all of you can “see” what I am talking about =P
How has the Lord been teaching you this year?